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College Fitness 101: How to Stay in Shape During the School Year

College has changed a lot since I graduated, but two things remain the same: 1) students are stupidly crazy for Dave Matthews Band and 2) students lead super unhealthy lifestyles. While I won’t go into detail about my thoughts on “Dave” (I like a few tunes, but don’t get the rabid fanhood), I do feel it necessary to bring up the poor eating habits and physical activity levels of the average college student.

Get fit!

I know how poorly college students eat and how little many of them exercise because I’ve been there. I was a lethargic, garbage-eating slacker of a journalism student. I’ve seen firsthand the effects of eating poorly and not exercising: lack of energy, love handles, and ten thousand calzone boxes stacked up in the corner of my room.
If you’re going back to school this fall and don’t want to end up another brain-dead, pudgy statistic, keep the following suggestions in mind:

The Dining Hall Is Not Your Personal Applebee’s

Dining halls are a dream come true when you first get to college. All those “healthy meals” your mom made you eat have been replaced by a smorgasbord of pizza, burgers, fries, chicken fingers, and other poisonous substances. While it may be tempting to eat tacos with a side of mozzarella sticks and chips three times a day, you can’t treat every meal like you’re going out on Friday with the boys. Eat salad, chicken, oatmeal, yogurt, and other healthy foods during the day and save the junk for weekend pizza runs.

Actually Use the Gym/Fitness Center

You see that big building with the treadmills and the Olympic size swimming pool? Yeah, that’s your ticket to staying in shape and looking good the next four years. Most college campuses offer some sort of gym or fitness center, and using them is usually included with tuition. Take advantage of free, state-of-the-art weight machines, ellipticals, and more while you can. A few half hour/hour-long trips a week can do wonders for your body (and help you burn calories from weekly wing eating contests.)

Go to Bed Before 4 A.M.

In case you don’t study exercise science and/or human biology, sleep plays an important role in our lives. It’s a fact that those who get decent sleep are more likely to be in decent shape. That being said, do your best to get to bed before the crack of dawn. While it might be tempting to drink gallons of Mountain Dew and play “Halo” all night with your roommate, go to bed at a reasonable hour and you’re less likely to look like a whale in a college hoodie.

Cut Back on the Booze

Stop shaking your head no. Sure, drinking is a regular part of college life for many, but going overboard is not only dangerous and embarrassing, but a great way to get fat. Drink too many six packs and you’re sure to pack on the pounds. Limit your drinking to a reasonable level and you can avoid having a beer belly at the age of 23.

Be a Fit Graduate

Listen to as much or as little DMB as you want, but make sure you watch what you’re eating and get enough exercise if you want to stay in shape at college. Whatever you do, limit you calzone intake to two a week at the most. I wish I had.

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About John Brhel John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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